At the time it was created, this piece was the largest that Rego had ever painted to date. Rego said that the idea of painting dancing figures was suggested by her husband, Victor Willing, and that she used their son and a photograph of Willing as the models for the male figures. Sadly Willing died shortly before the painting’s completion, and it has been seen as a memorial to him. The female figures in the painting are all in different stages of life, suggesting the piece may be an allegory.
Date of work
Original: Acrylic paint on paper laid on canvas2134 x 1524 mmPrivate Collection, New York/London (The Heller Group, LLC)© Paula Rego
Paula Rego was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1935 and has travelled between London and Portugal throughout her life. She studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, and throughout her career she has revolutionised the way in which women are represented, playing a key role in redefining figurative art in the UK and internationally. Her early paintings in Portugal were semi-abstract, sometimes applied to violent or political subjects that revealed a love of story-telling that had been awakened in her as a child by folk-tales related by a great-aunt. She is drawn to subjects that are well known, and takes her imagery from sources as varied as Peter Pan and Mary Magdalene. Her work is part of many public collections, including Tate’s collection.